University of Wednesday is a new program at out school. After lunch on Wednesday all of the classes go to an enrichment class: art, garden, natural history, etc. Every week they rotate. This is a great development for the garden as it allows me to be a true “garden educator,” creating a lesson plan tailored to each grade.
Last week I divided the group in half. One half played Garden Bingo with me. I don’t simply call out the words—I give examples of them in our garden and the kids have to come up with the words. It was windy so I had to tape down the boards. And the plastic bingo chips were too lightweight so I finally hit upon this idea. (Easy clean up–just flick these chips off the table.)
The other half did this scavenger hunt. It’s an exercise in observation, with a few academic standards thrown in. I usually have adult volunteers with me, so they walk around the garden, helping kids who are stumped or seizing teachable moments. This “scavenger hunt” format works really well, as kids are self-directed, working in pairs with the questions below on a clipboard. And it’s easy to adapt to the grade and the season.
1) How many varieties (different types) of tomatoes are currently growing in our garden?
2) We are currently growing yellow snapdragon flowers. Examine the flowers. Why do you think they have this name?
3) Draw the most beautiful thing in the garden:
4) Cite one example of insect damage or plant disease in the garden. (Look closely at leaves.)
5) Write three words that come to mind when you see the Hubbell Gate. (The new colorful one at the end of the garden). Now use the thesaurus on the main table and fine a synonym for each of these words.
Your word Word from thesaurus
6) Smell at least three herbs in the herb garden. Draw the leaf of the one you like most. Do you know its name?
7) We are a “certified wildlife habitat.” What are the four things needed for a habitat? (This is printed somewhere in the garden.) Pick two elements and give an example of both.
8) Watch the 4 minute video on tendrils. What did scientists recently learn? Where are there tendrils in our garden? Do you notice the phenomenon pointed out in the video?
(We couldn’t get this excellent Science Friday clip to play out in the garden, so I explained it and the kids watched it later in class.)
Then the kids switch so they both have a chance at each activity. We end by gathering together at the table to share our answers and questions, and I try to always have something from the garden prepped to eat as we talk together. The containers get passed around until all the food is gone!